Hazel Chu’s Seanad run overshadowed Climate Bill launch, says Green Seanad leader
Pauline O’Reilly complains ‘all the questions were about the strange reality of someone running as an Independent’
Green Senator Pauline O’Reilly said “we are trying to succeed in Government and then constantly having issues flash up which are divisive”. File photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Some Green Party members have “lost some confidence” in the party’s chair, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, the leader’s party in the Seanad Pauline O’Reilly claimed on Friday.
Ms Chu, the Green Lord Mayor of Dublin announced on Wednesday she was running as an Independent in the upcoming Seanad byelection, a move that has created division in the party as leader Eamon Ryan and others had previously decided they would be backing the Government candidate in the race, Gerry Horkan of Fianna Fail.
Ms O’Reilly said: “There’s no doubt that members have lost some confidence in the chair and it is for the chair to find a way to change that”.
Ms O’Reilly suggested on Friday that Ms Chu’s campaign for the Seanad had overshadowed the launch of the Climate Action Bill on Tuesday of this week. “We had the Climate Bill on Tuesday and all the questions were about the strange reality of someone running as an Independent,” she said.
Ms Chu has said that she did not issue an official comment on her candidacy on Monday as she wanted to wait until the Climate Bill went to Cabinet.
Responding to comments from Ms O’Reilly earlier in the week, Ms Chu said that the issue of her candidacy “is only divisive if we continue to make it so”.
She said that at her campaign launch “I expressed confidence in my leader and our parliamentary party and voiced how we are doing good work. I hope this respect will be reciprocated and we can continue to serve the public as best we can.”
Ms O’Reilly and fellow Senator Róisín Garvey, alongside Minister of State Pippa Hackett, tabled items for the agenda of the weekly meeting of the 16-strong Green parliamentary party calling for a debate on the question of confidence in Ms Chu.
They also submitted an item for the agenda asking all 16 TDs and Senators to support the two Government candidates. The motions were ultimately deferred.
Ms O’Reilly said she was hopeful that a solution to the issue could be found in advance of next week’s parliamentary party meeting - but suggested the divisions within the Green Party needed to be addressed.
“I would hope there is a way, but there is a constant pressure there. There is no doubt and people need to see that there’s some sense of trying to bring people together, not drive them apart, which is what seems to be happening at the moment.”
She said a situation could not continue “where we are trying to succeed in Government and then constantly having issues flash up which are divisive.”
“There’s been a whole range of things and I’m sure everybody knows at this stage it’s one thing after another. Seventy six per cent of the members chose to be in Government so you have to show some support for the things we are achieving in Government, and put the party and the country at the centre of this,” she said.